Fallen Angels
by Myers, Walter Dean






Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam





*Starred Review* "We're all dead over here. . . . We're all dead and just hoping we come back to life." Though the words belong to black, 17-year-old Richie Perry, they merely echo the thoughts of all the characters in this gut-twisting Vietnam War novel that breaks uncharted ground in teenage fiction. With the papers full of peace talks and money scarce at home, Richie, like others he would come to know, enlists-more to postpone a dead-end life in Harlem than to defend his country. He does not really understand what awaits him overseas-a war that will rip away his youth and test his sanity, while it forges bonds of friendship and love unlike any he has ever known. Myers does an outstanding job of re-creating the theater of war-from the tedium that breeds violence and vicious words among American comrades (black against white, black against black, white against white, and man against man), to the sudden shock, the pain, the confusion, and the stark terror that brings soliders face-to-face with their ideals, their religious beliefs, and their morality-in a world where a mother turns her child into a human bomb, an officer sends men into combat only to reap honors for himself. Social and political concerns related to the conflict blend smoothly into the plot: American antiwar sentiment, draft dodgers, drug abuse among servicemen, and the role of the media all concern Perry and his friends. Plot tension expertly reflects the extreme conditions of the battlefield-including highly charged, touching scenes along with those demonstrating heroism, cowardice, and visceral terror. While descriptions are explicit, action shocking, and language rough, Myers has kept a tight rein on his telling, presenting, in unadorned prose, the way it was. And he unfolds the separate and connected stories of Richie and his squad so deftly that it is hard to believe they are not real. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.






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